For budget-friendly getaways, St. Louis is high on the list. This gorgeous port city has more free attractions than most cities its size. Besides the ample public parks and urban green spaces perfect for picnics, there are also lots of cultural and entertainment attractions that don’t cost a dime. Here are five free places you’ll definitely want to visit.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and “Old White”
You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the stunning collection of mosaics. The New Cathedral, as it’s sometimes called, has the world’s largest collection, including some 41 million pieces covering over 80,000 square feet. The beautiful mosaics depict scenes from the Old and New Testament, as well as milestones in the life of Saint Louis, King of France, the city’s patron saint. You can take a self-tour or sign up for a free guided tour offered Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There are many beautiful architecture sites to see in St. Louis in addition to the Cathedral Basilica. While you’re on an architectural journey, be sure to check out the beautifully famous water tower, respectively called “Old White”, and learn about the history. If site seeing is the main purpose of your trip to St. Louis, make sure to find a hotel that is in the perfect location for your site seeing needs. Hipmunk.com has a full list of these hotels. They even offer a list of hotels near the water towers.
Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour
Budweiser is the city’s brew; Anheuser Busch has been part of St. Louis culture for over 150 years. Located in the Soulard neighborhood and Fox Park, this massive facility includes the Budweiser Clydesdales and their stables, as well as the Budweiser brands brewing and bottling areas. The free tour ends in the tasting room where guests are treated to two samples of Bud products. Low-cost add-ons include Beer School ($10), a one-hour class about pouring and tasting with more free samples, and Brewmaster Tour ($25) with a three-hour behind-the-scenes look at beer-making.
This museum, located beneath Gateway Arch, features the most extensive collection of artifacts from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It also contains photos, implements, and interactive exhibits documenting the lives of Native Americans and early explorers. Gazing at the Arch is free, although there’s a fee to ride to the top. Be sure to check out the Old Courthouse across the street, the site of the Dred Scott slavery trial.
The World Bird Sanctuary
Have you ever wondered what happens to injured bald eagles? They go to the Wild Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, where they are treated at the Wildlife Hospital, until they are hopefully returned to the wild. The sanctuary offers visitors the opportunity to see majestic birds of prey and endangered species up close and learn about their habitats. Visit the Nature Center in this 300-acre park if you want to see snakes and reptiles along with the birds.
You’ll find something awesome—and free—in every corner of this bustling city. It’s the perfect city for a thrifty escape.
Sheila Westin is a freelance travel, food, and wine writer and blogger based in Washington, DC. Follow her on Google+.